Last week, the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions committee held a hearing on the state of mental health care in America, an important topic in light of the recent spate of mass shootings.
During the hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked Dr. Thomas Insel, who heads the National Institute of Mental Health, about how funding constraints are harming our battle against mental illness. Insel explained how the lack of funding harms research:
INSEL: It’s always frustrating because there’s, of course, never enough funding to support all of the best ideas that come in. We try to support about 20 percent of them. So about 1 in 5 grants gets funded. I hope I’m smart enough to pick the best 20 percent. I’m afraid I’m not. And if I could do 30 percent I’d have a probably much better hit rate. It’s just hard to know often. That’s always the challenge. You never have the funding you have to do all of the science, some of which is spectacular, just sitting there in front of you.
Watch it (relevant section around 3:22):
The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) estimates states cut at least $4.35 billion in funding for mental health agencies from fiscal year 2009 through 2012.